photo by Samara Pearlstein
Eh. I am less than impressed.
I should start by saying that I loved the Who’s Your Tiger? campaign. It was full of excitement! And thrills! And really awesome things! Who among us did not shout the phrase at fellow Tigers fans, over and over again, until we had received a satisfactory answer? It was punchy, and it was catchy without being overly obnoxious.
(and I know some wet sock is going to pipe up and say that they found it wicked obnoxious, but in a relative sense [April in the D] it was in fact fairly innocuous)
It connected fans and players, by making the slogan about BOTH, not one or the other. Who’s YOUR Tiger? It was a question ABOUT the players, addressed TO the fans; it asked the fan to pick a favorite player and claim him for their very own. This is not just an ad about Chad Durbin, it’s an ad about MY TIGER. Not that they ever made a Chad Durbin ad, but if I said to a Tigers fan, “Chad Durbin is MY Tiger!” they would immediately understand what I was saying and where it was coming from.
It was, as a team slogan, almost infinitely flexible, in that it could be applied to any Tigers player, or minor leaguer, or coach, or whatever. Who’s Your Tiger? Dave Dombrowski is my Tiger! Carlos Guillen’s surgically repaired knee is my Tiger! PAWS IS MY TIGER! When new Tigers joined the roster, via call-up or trade, the slogan could be immediately applied to them. It was wonderfully update-able and was versatile enough to encompass Tigers of both the present and the past, semantically if not in the form of actual TV ads.
Always A Tiger is not, in and of itself, a terrible slogan. It’s nostalgic, and looks to the history of a team that has more history than lots of current Major League teams. It puts emphasis on players who will always be associated with the franchise (never a bad thing) and it recalls the glory days of the team and those who wore the Olde English D (an especially good thing in the wake of the cringe-inducing ’08 season).
But it pales in comparison to Who’s Your Tiger. It’s pleasant enough, but it lacks punch, and if I was a bettin’ cat I would be willing to bet that it will never develop the near-viral memeness of Who’s Your Tiger.
Who’s Your Tiger was essentially a call for fan participation; Always A Tiger is a completely passive slogan. Are you going to yell Always A Tiger! at your Tigers fan friends? Do you feel any particular need to interact with the slogan at all? You probably don’t, because it’s not interactive. Who’s Your Tiger was.
Who’s Your Tiger was about the team NOW, in whatever form it was taking at the time; Always A Tiger is about past Tigers almost exclusively and attempts to drum up enthusiasm for the franchise without addressing the current roster in any meaningful way. How many of the current cats will ‘always’ be Tigers? Granderson and Verlander, hopefully; Inge, although I know a lot of you folks would rather get rid of him. Bondo? Maybe? There’s not a whole lot of continuity in MLB these days, and many of the current feline fan favorites had firmly established histories with other teams before coming to Detroit.
Who’s Your Tiger worked equally well for the dude in the Sheff’s Chef hat and the squealing Magglio fangirl and the vaguely bewildered but stubbornly loyal Jeff Larish fan. Always A Tiger has little to say to any of those people. Always A Tiger works for the couple who insist on wearing Hank Greenberg jerseys to the park no matter who’s on the team, but Who’s Your Tiger worked for those folks too.
It’s not that I think the team should ignore longtime, hardcore, SABRtoothed history-buff fans in favor of the ~*~but Curtis is so dreamy~*~ crowd. It’s not even that I think you have to BE a longtime, hardcore, SABRtooth to appreciate Always A Tiger, or that I think hardcore SABRtooths can’t or shouldn’t at the same time be people who happily objectify the hell out of ballplayers in tight pants.
But Who’s Your Tiger? was such a wonderful slogan in part because it was stupid and silly and fun to say, and in part because it had broad appeal and reached out to ANYONE who was a fan OF ANY TIGERS PLAYER, EVER. Always A Tiger looks at that level of inclusiveness and falls flat on its textual little face.
Who’s Your Tiger gained its near-viral status because of all these things. It appealed to everyone, so everyone was reached by it. It invited participation, so everyone paid attention to it and thought about who THEIR Tiger was. It was dynamic, pithy and fun, so it made a great statement to yell at people, and as dumb as it sounds, I really think it DID get people excited about Tigers baseball.
Always A Tiger lacks all that. It’s a fine, inoffensive slogan, like so many MLB slogans. But in a time when the team will probably need to actively work to regain the enthusiasm of its reeling fan base, I just don’t think it’s a good choice.
Something we can all agree on, though: April in the D needs to DIE IN A FIRE.